DCSIMG

Haass talks enter final stage as flag row goes on

Dr Richard Haass

Dr Richard Haass

 

The Haass talks will resume on Monday morning amid increasing tensions over proposals on the flying of flags.

Dr Haass and his team are understood to be ready to present the first draft of an agreement to the parties, hoping to have the negotiations completed before the New Year.

The US diplomat has described this latest round of meetings – aimed at resolving some of the most contentious issues hindering political progress – as an “intense two weeks of deliberations and negotiations”.

Contents of the draft could be circulated as early as tomorrow.

It was reported at the weekend that the DUP were left “spitting blood” after a meeting with Dr Haass to discuss flag issues on Thursday, while Ulster Unionist talks delegate Tom Elliott has warned there is an opportunity for progress, but not at the expense of victims or the rule of law.

“This cannot be a process which expects further sacrifices from innocent victims or their families; there should not be an equivalence between perpetrators and victims, neither can it be used as a means to resurrect doomed ways of addressing the past, such as a peace centre at the Maze,” said Mr Elliott.

“We want to see an end to the current processes, because they put an almost exclusive focus on the state and the agents of the state, largely ignoring the fact that 90 per cent of the killings during the Troubles were committed by terrorist organisations with 60 per cent by republicans.”

Since the talks process began there has been widespread speculation that both the Parades Commission and the PSNI Historical Enquiries Team will be replaced with new bodies.

The Innocent Victims United (IVU) group has called for Dr Haass to hear the voices of innocent victims and survivors of terrorism who are based in Great Britain – accounting for some 10 per cent of Troubles-related deaths – as well as in the Republic of Ireland, as the talks process enters its most crucial phase.

IVU spokesman Kenny Donaldson said: “Too often the innocent victims and survivors of terrorism who live outside of Northern Ireland are disregarded and are not afforded a platform to voice their views on justice and truth-related matters or indeed to gain equitable access to services for victims/survivors which are more readily available to those living in Northern Ireland.”

 

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